So if we're in this sub-forum, we all have in common a love of cigars. However, what many of us probably don't like, as a general rule, are machine made cigars. They're generally considered the degenerate, unsophisticated hillbilly cousins of the more urbane and suave handmade Dominican cigars, and only very distant relations of (barely even the same species as) the powerful, high-society type Cuban cigars. But I've long believed there is a time and place for most all things. When I still drank, as a general rule I got far more enjoyment from a glass of malt whisky or a fine craft beer or a high quality, dry sparkling white wine than most other drinks....but that doesn't mean I never reached for a 40 of Olde English 800 on a sticky August night or a cold can of Stroh's or PBR on a hot July afternoon. And it certainly doesn't mean I didn't still enjoy the heck out of those! I liked them -truly- but for very different qualities (and it's not strictly because I had a drinking problem, either, though I admit that played some role) Anyway, my point is that "low quality" doesn't mean no quality, and it doesn't mean we can't still enjoy the (allegedly) lesser products. Before you jump and attack me for this blasphemy, consider for a moment the "no snob zone" qualification of this forum, and consider for a moment your pipe smoking habits. Do you enjoy Prince Albert? Carter Hall? I've seen some folks on here tout the merits of Smoker's Pride Black Cavendish, and somewhat recently even Borkum Riff! And probably almost all of us have at least one or two Missouri Meerschaums in our pipe rack. These old school pipe blends are sometimes thought of as being "less than." And maybe they are. But among the fine people on this forum, they are usually defended as being "simple but enjoyable." You may, sometimes, find they smoke so easily you need to slow down in comparison to, say, Full Virginia Flake. Almost nobody will claim Prince Albert is as complex or nuanced as Penzance. But they are not designed to be. There is no pretension, no assumption that you will get the same type of smoke from them. So, we like pipes, and we like cigars. Why do so few of us smoke (or rather, admit to smoking) cheap machine made cigars? Let's look at some of their potential merits: A. Availability - lets face it, most gas stations you walk into will not have a humidor with premium cigars. If they do, they will likely have a selection of ten or fewer varieties of cigars, and probably at prices far higher than you'll find with JR or CI. But more gas stations, carry outs, convenience an corner stores than not will have a selection of a plethora of machine made cigars. It wouldn't be hard to imagine that more of these are sold to and smoked by the American public every year than premium cigars - probably by a comfortable margin. B. Quickness - these are mostly small cigars: coronas, petite coronas, short panetelas, and cigarillos. They are generally made with short fillers. They are designed in every way to take light and burn easily and effortlessly. Even a larger corona will last, at most, maybe 30 minutes. These are quick smokes in most cases, and designed to offer enjoyment when you're on the go or distracted, or when you don't care if the cigar tastes like a Gurkha. These are designed for smoke breaks, for mowing the lawn, or for something to slightly slow down the consumption of after work libations. C. Affordability - Need I say more? These are generally far cheaper than the premium smokes, often 1/5 the cost of entry-level premiums. For the price of a single Punch I can get a five pack of any number of machine made cigars. These are generally pretty well constructed, but on the off chance you get one which just won't do, you aren't out much. If you happen to get a dud of a premium cigar, you're out much more money. D. Reliability - say what you will about flavor, these things are pretty consistent. The combination of mechanized production and short leaf, low-density cores may not be conducive to three inch ashes, but by gosh you'll have an easy, relaxed draw every dang time. E. Simplicity - in almost no cases do you need to snip these. They are, in a very true sense, stogies, and are open to a greater or lesser degree on both ends. Not only that, they do not demand much attention in lighting, in keeping a straight burn, in keeping lit, or in appreciating the flavor, which itself is almost invariably very simple. So, this thread is intended to be for the un(der?)appreciated workhorses of the cigar industry, the cheap, machine made cigar. It is no secret, and I make no apologies for the fact, that my go-to cigar is the Parodi King. These are quite unusual in many regards, and are quite different from most other machine made cigars on a number of levels, but I enjoy them at least as much as most premium cigars, and often more. They are hearty, ugly, very full bodied, yet smooth and strangely enjoyable. They are as cheap as any cigar out there, and unlike most machine made stogies they last about as long as your average premium robusto. More in line with the nature of this thread, I will admit to occasionally smoking and enjoying Antonio y Cleopatra Grenadiers, usually in the candela wrapper. These make use of a homogenized tobacco binder, but unlike many machine made smokes they use natural leaf wrappers. They are smallish panatelas, at a bit over 6 inches long but a ring gauge of only 33. The candelas have a semi-sweet, mild, grassy flavor with just enough body, and due to their length when nursed they can last me a good 30 minutes, as they burn increasingly slowly toward the end. These have a somewhat weak and "thin" flavor, and slightly "dusty" for lack of a better word, but while they may not have rich flavor like a premium smoke they are not premiums. I think the comparison to Prince Albert or Carter Hall compared to FVF is an apt one. Poll 100 PA smokers about how to describe the blend, and I bet you less than five would list "rich" among the adjectives. It doesn't taste bad, it's just not earth shattering. I'm interested in learning more about the world of machine mades, but despite all my defense of them broadly, more specifically I will say I dislike most of them that I've tried. I've smoked my share of Phillies, White Owls, and Swishers....with one or two Optimos thrown in, but beyond that I refuse to comment.....those days are behind me .....at any rate, more recent trials with these, say the past two years or so, have found these homogenized tobacco wrapped sticks to be thoroughly unpleasant - but then, I dislike a few OTC blends, too. I have a few machine made sticks on my "to try" list. Among them are Marsh Wheelings, Robert Burns, Kentucky Cheroots, Ramrods, Garcia y Vega in candela wrappers, and probably at the top of the list, La Aurora's "Principes." So, if anyone here cares to discuss the matter further, I'm interested in doing so. I won't be disappointed if nobody does, but I'd like to. I'm especially curious if anyone here has had the Principes, and if so, how they stacked up compared to the likes of Antonio y Cleopatra and Garcia y Vega (I'd expect them to be better) and how they compare to the quality of the semi-premium handmade shortfiller sticks out there. Their price can't be beat, and I've been very interested in trying them for a long time, I just don't want to shell out the money for a full box of what I may not end up enjoying.